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Teens share NCYC experience with Bishop Mike

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Bishop Michael W. Fisher talks to some of the pilgrims who traveled to Indianapolis to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference. The lunchtime meeting took place at St. Joseph Cathedral. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

Bishop Michael W. Fisher took some time out of his busy schedule to meet with area youth. Over pizza and chips in St. Joseph Cathedral’s Msgr. Britt Room, the bishop spoke with about a dozen teens who had just returned from the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.

Bishop Fisher asked about their experiences at NCYC. That led to a freeform conversation about their faith and what the Church can do to gain more youth involvement. The bishop found common ground with the teens and revealed a lot about his own faith life, both as a teen and adult.  

One student has plans to become an engineer, just as the bishop had planned as a teen. They talked about his scouting days when one young man mentioned he was a Boy Scout. His time as an Eagle Scout led the bishop to being a priest. “Scouting got me out of the city out into the woods, I was able to appreciate God’s nature and the beauty of creation,” he explained.

The teens agreed that adoration was their favorite part of the national conference. Victoria Loniewski, from Immaculate Conception Parish in East Aurora, wished that churches had adoration more than once a month.

“What if you just feel a pull to go to adoration and it’s not until another few weeks?” she asked.

Bishop Fisher realizes that the Church is competing with other activities, such as sports and studies, for the attention of teens. “What do you think can make the Mass more attractive to our young people?” he asked. Suggestions included getting more youth involved as lectors, holding more youth Masses, and using more incense and music to get all the senses involved. Someone even suggested serving brownies after Eucharist. “Sometimes we have doughnuts,” the bishop replied.

The bishop enjoyed the hour he spent with the teens and suggested they do it again.Connor Francos, from St. Andrew’s in Sloan, suggested meeting once or twice a month.

“Lunch today with the bishop was really exciting for me,” Francos said. “This is something I have never done before. Just the things that he was talking about just moved me.”

NCYC took place Nov. 18-20 at Lucas Oil Filed in Indianapolis. The biannual event gathers teens from all over the country for a series of large group talks and smaller breakout sessions, as well as prayer, liturgy and sacraments.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Loniewski. “I think it was a good break from the world, a break from school, any stresses, because it was finals week. And I’ve been meaning to reconnect with my relationship with God. So, it was a good break and good at strengthening that.”

Kathryn Schulz, also from Immaculate Conception, found spending time with others who are her own age and facing the same struggles to be to most valuable aspect of the conference.

“This was my second time going and both times felt different. When I was there the first time, I wasn’t as much into my faith as I am now, so I didn’t go to as many breakout sessions. I wandered the village and I talked to people. I got more connected with the youth and from there that helped me enter into a more deeper understanding,” she said. “This year, I made it a mission to go to more breakout sessions. I really enjoyed that, but again, I found myself drawn to walking and wandering the village and talking with other people.”

Although strangers from all parts of the country, Schulz found the young people friendly and eager to talk to each other.

“It was really cool to connect with kids who were your age and you all had the same drive,” she said.

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